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News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

May 11, 2012
Rookie notes: Fifth-round pick Fleming nicked early in practice


First-round pick A.J. Jenkins may have gotten winded midway through his first practice with the 49ers. But he fared better than some of his fellow rookies who spent the initial session limping around with strains and pulls.

Fifth-round draft pick Darius Fleming pulled a hamstring almost as soon as the practice started. That forced undrafted rookie Kourtnei Brown to get more repetitions, and he ended up tweaking his own hamstring but made it to the end of practice, he reported afterward. (Brown played defensive end at Clemson but will play outside linebacker with the 49ers).

Another undrafted rookie, fullback Cameron Bell, also appeared to suffer a hamstring injury early and did not practice. Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh reported that center Chase Beeler broke a bone in his right hand while lifting weights recently. Beeler has a cast on his forearm now, but Harbaugh said he should be fully healed by training camp.

The two quarterbacks on hand for the three-day session are Sacramento State's Jeff Fleming and Tavita Pritchard, a former quarterback of Harbaugh's at Stanford who now is an assistant coach there. Fleming threw a nice, 50-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nathan Palmer (Northern Illinois) during one-on-one coverage drills.

Perhaps not surprisingly, some of the rookies who jumped out (to my eye, at least) have played for Harbaugh before. That group includes receiver Chris Owusu, who was as fast as advertised but bigger than expected, linebacker Eric Bakhtiari, who played for Harbaugh at San Diego and has some NFL experience and inside linebacker Michael Wilhoite, who spent part of 2011 on the 49ers practice squad.

Harbaugh said he's been just as impressed with new receiver Randy Moss as the reporters who watched him for first time live on Thursday. The players are a bit starstruck, too. In fact, Harbaugh said he often sees the defensive players taking peeks at Moss from their adjacent practice field. (There is no offense-vs.defense yet for veterans).

At one point, Harbaugh walked by defensive ends Ray McDonald and Justin Smith as they were watching Moss. "And Ray goes, 'I don't think Randy Moss has lost at step.' And Justin says, 'That's Randy freakin' Moss over there. It doesn't matter if he did lose a step. That's Randy Moss.' "

While he was a bit vexed by the shape in which some of his rookies arrived, Harbaugh said that his veterans are in excellent shape. A number of them were working out Friday while the rookies practiced. That group included quarterback Alex Smith, defensive linemen Justin Smith, McDonald and Isaac Sopoaga, offensive linemen Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Iupati, fullback Bruce Miller and cornerback Chris Culliver.

Iupati stuck around to watch little brother Andrew, who is playing nose guard this weekend. Andrew Iupati played at Humboldt State.

-- Matt Barrows


Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.


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